December 18, 2012
Georgia Tech Faculty Highlight
If there was ever any question about what a young Zakiya A. Seymour would pursue for her career, it was answered – over and over – by her doting father, Cornell Seymour (ChemE ’73).
“The people who do what you want to do are engineers,” he told his pint-sized daughter when she pummeled him with questions about practically everything. “Engineers answer the questions you are asking.”
Now a doctoral candidate in environmental engineering, Zakiya has narrowed the focus of those questions, but she hasn’t stopped asking them.
Her terminal research topic, “Understanding What Sanitation Users Value- Examining Preferences and Behaviors for Sanitation Systems” looks at the wide-ranging social considerations that impact the use of sanitation technology in developing nations.
“Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I was always interested in water – where it comes from, how we use it, how to save it,” she said. “But sanitation technology – removing what we’ve put in the water – is more interesting from an engineering standpoint. It’s more complex, more of a challenge. After all, it’s easier to put contaminants in water than it is to take them out.”
A native of Georgia, Zakiya A. Seymour spent most of her first 12 years in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia before moving to Atlanta as a teenager. She received her bachelors of science degree in civil engineering from Tennessee State University and her masters in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. A National Science Foundation fellow, she expects to finish her doctoral work at Georgia Tech in 2013 and looks forward to pursuing a career with either a humanitarian organization or a government agency that is focused on aiding developing countries. Check out photos of her research below: